Yummm – monja!

Last weekend, while in Tokyo, Tomo and I went to 月島 (Tsukishima, another reference here) in Tokyo to meet up with a couple of his high school classmates for some もんじゃ焼 (monjayaki). That had not been our plan at all. As a matter of fact, I was hoping to go to Gonpachi, where the big restaurant brawl from “Kill Bill” was shot. OK, touristy, but still I have wanted to see it. As we were heading to the subway, Tomo got a text saying, “Where are you?” Oops. So we had a decision to make – go with our plan or take the same subway line a different direction. Since Tomo recalled that he had made the tentative plan he decided we would redirect to monja.

Tsukishima is famous for monja. If you’ve never had monja, imagine someone puking on a teppan and then scooping it up with a little spatula and eating it. That’s the visual. Sound appetizing? It actually is really, really good. And like most Japanese food, it is very social and very interactive.

You basically have different ingredients, usually including some cheese, cabbage, veggies, and meats, all in a brothy bowl. You put the hard stuff on the teppan and start grilling it. After it is sufficiently grilled, you make a ring out of it and then pour the broth in the middle. The broth bubbles and congeals a little bit, and then you mix in the previously grilled stuff. It is sort of runny, sort of not runny, and you use a little spatula to scoop it up and then pop it in your mouth. Of course, none of this could be accomplished without the help of draft beer.

Monja in Tsukishima

The ring with the broth bubbling in the middle.
 

Monja in Tsukishima

Monja getting mixed and almost ready to eat.
 

Monja in Tsukishima

One bowl prepared, and another one sitting in the queue
 

Monja in Tsukishima

Tomo prepares dessert. Somehow he poured the batter and spread it like a crepe. His friends were impressed. The filling is sweet red bean paste, a favorite Japanese dessert ingredient. To finish the dessert you flop the side over, roll it up and then slice it. Very good.
 

You leave the restaurant feeling very good, step outside, and realize, “Oh my God! My clothes and my hair have absorbed every smell in that restaurant.” Tomo and I went to an onsen afterwards and got the smell off our bodies. A very Japanese evening.